Young Monks at the Thien Mu Pagoda

Hue (Vietnam). The value of some photos is in remembering a special moment. I met these two young monks at the Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue while I was walking and admiring this wonderful place. They were praying, but they made me understand that they were not disturbed by my presence. I staid in a corner, without taking photos but simply watching them and letting the peace generated by that moment pervading myself. When they finished, before closing the room where they were praying, they made me understand that I could take a photos of them – it was like a remuneration for my silent respect of their activity. At the end, I had the feeling that they were even happy to be photographed: as said, it was a special moment…

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The Imperial City, Hue

Hue (Vietnam). Normally I read two or three books in parallel, and one of them is always a book about photography. In this period I’m reading a very interesting book written by Alex Webb together with his wife Rebecca: the title is “Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on Street Photography and the Poetic Image” (no, you won’t find any link to Amazon or any other website for clear reasons written here). What I like about this book – beyond the amazing photographs by Alex Webb (I don’t like too much those from Rebecca, to be honest) – is that for each image there are some thoughts.

I cannot say that it’s the same concept of this blog, simply because my photos of course are not even comparable with those from Alex Webb. And thoughts too, definitely: mine are quite basic and much less deep than what Alex and Rebecca write. However, I find great sources of inspiration in this book, and I think it should stay on the table of each photographer.

One of the things I always think about, is the relationship about what I see and what I photograph. Said differently, when I come back from a shooting, the real image is still so alive into my mind and my eyes, that it’s almost impossible to see it in the photos I have taken. The result is a sort of frustration and disappointment because I feel the result of my work terribly distant from what I have seen, lived and experienced few hours before. And this phenomenon is – in my opinion – exacerbated by shooting digital, since it’s possible to see what has been captured almost in real time. Film photographers (here there is the interesting starting point from Webb’s book) were automatically preserved by this phenomenon, simply because there was (is) a sort of “physiological distance” between shooting and developing, so that the final result – a printed image – comes after the reality has already disappeared from my eyes.

I must confess my big limit of having started photography when digital cameras were already dominating the market: however, I’m more and more convinced that one day I should include in my bag one film camera. I already moved from big cameras with heavy zoom lenses, to something of more “basic” with prime lenses. And I’m more and more comfortable with the Leica Q, used in manual focus mode. So, the next step must be a traditional film camera… at least to protect myself from the sense of frustration mentioned above.

For those interested about this place – and why I posted this photo now: it’s a detail from the Imperial City in Hué, a lovely town in the heart of Vietnam, and a very popular touristic place (UNESCO site). I was there this January, but I share this photo only now. Why? It’s written in this post: reality was so different from the image, that it took almost one year to see (let me say, to “recognize”) that place in this image. And believe me, it was frustrating going through the gallery of photos taken that day at Hué, without finding one – just one – which was worth of sharing.


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